After delivering exceptionally thorough updates to the Accord sedan and Odyssey minivan, Honda is turning its attention to its sport-utility vehicle lineup. This is the 2016 Pilot SUV, an attractive and sophisticated follow-up to the wildly popular vehicle that first put Honda on utility buyers' radar over a decade ago.
What is it?
The Pilot, now in its third iteration, is Honda's homegrown sport-utility vehicle. Derived from the Odyssey minivan platform, and transitively through the Accord sedan's, the front- or all-wheel-drive Pilot is the third of the trio to be recently redone. It shares componentry and lineage with the Acura MDX sport-ute, and if we didn't know any better, this all-new model looks luxurious enough to be an Acura. It's unique among the cadre of family SUVs, in that it offers optional 8-passenger seating.
Where the outgoing Pilot was staid and conservative, the 2016 model diverges in favor of style. Some eyes will see distinct elements of the former Audi Q7 in its profile, but we also could believe it's a Honda CR-V scaled up. Interior niceties, which were few and far between on past Pilots, now include a panoramic sunroof and optional second-row captain's chairs.
Also new is the placement of Honda's 3.5-liter V-6, available with either a 6- or 9-speed automatic transmission. Stay tuned for full details on powertrain, including specific output and drive wheels combinations. We're bullish on the Pilot's performance, having driven this engine in a variety of Honda and Acura products.
Most fascinating feature?
Honda claims that a redesigned rear cargo area will hold "an 82-quart cooler without compromising third-row seating capability." Time to find an 82-quart cooler for evaluation purposes—and a reason to spend a week by the beach.
Can I buy it?
Expect to see the 2016 Pilot in showrooms and on the road in 2015.
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